While studying for a social justice degree, you will learn about a wide range of basic human rights topics. The coursework in a social justice degree will be similar to that of a human rights degree, covering racism, homophobia, sexism, poverty, and globalization.
Social justice is a broad topic that often changes depending on the evolution of social issues. It is also currently a much-debated topic in Western society. Its core aim is to offer equal access to wealth and opportunities in society, but the fear of being overly politically correct has left a cultural question mark over the movement.
What Is Social Justice?
Social justice is the assurance that the fundamental human rights of all people are upheld. If you choose to enter this degree, you will explore the critical inequalities in sociological, philosophical, cultural, and political arenas.
More specifically, you will learn about globalization, migration, culture, religion, displacement, racism, xenophobia, structural inequality, and how to partake in activism. Essentially, social justice is about protecting people’s rights and giving a voice to those who don’t have one.
What Are the Areas of Social Justice?
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There are many fields in which you may apply your social justice knowledge, such as journalism, politics, and philosophy. Below we have listed some of the more common areas in which you can gain employment after studying social justice.
- Law. This field of study concerns criminal justice, civil rights, and personal liberties like freedom of speech and the press. It also includes discrimination based on race, age, sex, and national origin.
- Education. In education, jobs may range from policy development to investigative research and advocacy.
- Social work. If you want to become a social worker, you will likely be helping families get access to housing, providing counseling and mentoring to students, or offering support for hospital patients. Social justice and social work are heavily interlinked.
- Business. If you graduate from a program like a master of science in sustainability management, you may choose to go on to develop sustainable and green business practices for an organization. You may also become a sustainability consultant or work in an HR department, focusing on diversity.
- Activism. Activists may organize protests and political campaigns, or work for charitable organizations seeking to promote positive change.
- Public administration. If you are focusing on public administration, you will take courses that provide a holistic and humanistic approach to administration management. These will help you gain a better understanding of the social, political, and economic systems that shape your country.
Social Justice Studies
It is rare to find an undergraduate degree in social justice, although there are many master’s degrees offered in the field. However, in some bachelor’s degrees such as those in social work and law, you will typically complete specific classes in social justice and human rights.
Some schools will offer a social justice specialization as part of their Associate of Arts for Transfer (AA-T) degree programs. This coursework will combine social justice classes with related classes in English, history, sociology, and psychology. There are also other accredited social justice programs online that you may want to look into.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Social Justice Degree?
If you are merely getting an associate’s degree, it will typically take two years to complete the necessary courses. Studying social justice in a master’s degree program will also take about two years, in addition to the four years you must initially spend to acquire your bachelor’s degree in a related area.
This will depend on the institution you choose to attend, and whether you have decided to study full-time or part-time, on-campus, or online. There are also many short social justice courses that you can sign up for online if you are only looking for a brief overview of the topics.
Pros of Completing a Social Justice Degree
Social justice can encourage individuals or an entire society to shift its perspective on how a particular group or community is treated. The field celebrates diversity and develops policy changes that will benefit society as a whole.
It is a rewarding field of study that will enable you to continue on to a career in which you will help people and promote essential social changes.
Cons of Completing a Social Justice Degree
It might seem like there would be no cons to trying to create social change, but it is always a good idea to look carefully at both sides. There have been reports that certain social justice “education” providers promote dangerous public health practice and inciting conflict.
Although human rights issues must be discussed and addressed, if a program is promoting violence against those with opposing views or is shutting down the dialogue between parties, then it is not a program you should enroll in.
You should tread carefully when choosing a program, and be aware that as social justice is an ideology, you may be studying people’s personal beliefs. When signing up for a course, remember that having open discussions with those who don’t share the same views as you is a necessary part of life.
The Best Social Justice Careers
There are many careers you can go into with a social justice degree, and all of them involve interacting with others and helping people.
Of course, there are many more options than those listed below, such as nonprofit management roles and those in psychology. Each listed salary is the median annual salary for the position, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Lawyer – $122,960
Earning a master of law degree is a great way to work in human rights and social justice advocacy. Lawyers can help victims of persecution, abuse, and civil rights violations. They may work at the local, national, and international levels of nonprofit organizations or private law firms.
Lawyers specializing in international human rights law or human and civil rights law in the US will cover issues such as gender equality, land rights, violence against women, war crimes, LGBTQ issues, freedom of the press and speech, and indigenous rights.
Program Officer – $59,746
Program officers who work in social justice will implement and manage programs aimed at bringing equality to marginalized populations.
They can work in program development, management, research, analysis, budgeting, monitoring, and evaluation. Program officers often work at the local level to implement programs that will help a specific community.
Social Worker – $50,470
Social service workers deal with hands-on human rights work. They help people in challenging situations and connect them to services they may need.
There are many fields of social work, including mental health, criminal justice, health care, child welfare, business, and substance abuse recovery.
Policy Analyst – $122,220
This social justice career usually concerns local and national civil and human rights policies. Policy analysts will have skills in research, analysis, law, and policies in their area. They are responsible for staying up-to-date with policy changes related to economics and social welfare.
Researcher – $50,000
A social justice researcher will gather information and statistics on poverty, racial justice, criminal justice, LQBTQ+ issues, gender inequality, and indigenous rights.
Researchers can work at nonprofits, international organizations, research institutes, academic institutions, or in government. They will collect data to support specific programs, influence policy and funding, and inform the public and relevant stakeholders.
Should You Earn a Social Justice Degree?
Whether you are looking at applying to a bachelor’s or master’s degree, or want to pursue an accredited online program, there is a lot of value in this career.
While studying social justice, you will learn about the challenges people are facing and how you can help them.. If you are studying for a more broad degree such as law or social work, it will be worthwhile to take courses in social justice.
Overall, whether you choose to study social justice depends on your career goals and your personality. As previously mentioned, be aware of what your program offers, and be willing to start an open and honest dialogue to promote positive change in the world.
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